Just because it’s what you’ve always done doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. In fact, some of your bad spending habits could actually ruin your chances to excel
It’s generally accepted that if you’re serious about growing your business, you’re more likely to succeed if you have clearly defined goals and a plan in place to achieve them. But it’s also important to look at any barriers to growth, especially within your own business.
Here we look at three examples.
(1) Paper-based expense and invoice processes
When you’re small, there are only a handful of expense claims and supplier invoices each month and getting sign off on them is easy because there is only one person in the approval chain – the boss.
But as you grow, this is set to change. Now there are hundreds of expense claims and invoices a month and there is paper everywhere. Plus, there are several people in the approval process and sign-off can take weeks when people are out the office or you’re based in multiple locations. It’s frustrating for employees and suppliers, while the finance team is always playing catch up and can’t plan expenditure sensibly.
When London-based charity Thames Reach moved to SAP Concur, filing in the first six months went from a six-foot-high filing cabinet to a concertina file. And research suggests that automation speeds up the expense approval process by up to 80%.
(2) Policy compliance
Formal travel and expense policies are often written and then forgotten about. Employees rarely check them and the finance team doesn’t have time to do anything more than quick spot-checks on claims. As you grow, this can become a problem – in fact, 68% of finance leaders aren’t confident their employees comply with travel and expense policies. So how can you be confident your spend is under control?
Automation can solve this problem by embedding policies in the system. Employees are alerted when spend is out-of-policy so it can be stopped at source and you can gain confidence in your compliance.
(3) Unapproved spend
When you’re small, everyone in the company knows the purse strings are tight and every purchase is carefully considered. But this changes as you grow. And even if all employees are budget-conscious, small purchases here and there soon start to add up.
Automation gives you a way to get insight into spend and control it. Luke Braham, head of technology operations at SAP Concur customer RED, said: “We’ve been relaxed in the past and we needed to be less relaxed. SAP Concur gives us a way to do this. For example, we realised we spent £27,000 with Amazon last year and it was all unapproved. We’ve now moved to a single Amazon Business account. The spend will be approved going forward, which is a big benefit.”
The common theme
The finance team is essential to business growth with the insights it can offer and the support it can provide. But it is also true to say that its processes are a crucial factor in business growth too.
Cumbersome paper-based processes create work for people throughout the business, meaning more time is spent on admin and less time on the work that will propel the business forward. Similarly, policies and systems that lack transparency mean no one has the insight needed to be able to reinforce policies or inform future spend.
On the other hand, when an entire company works from a common automated system such as SAP Concur, everyone wins.
This article comes courtesy of SAP Concur, the company offering a cloud-based service to help you take control of your business spend. To learn more, check out its two eBooks Seven Ways to Simplify Supplier Invoice Management and Nine Ways to Simplify Expense Management.